Club talk

More on the proposed changes to the Championship and the impact on Cov – ‘self-protectionism at its worst and competitively it stinks’

I know all there is to know about the crying game
I’ve had my share of the crying game

First there are kisses, then there are sighs
And then before you know where you are
You’re sayin’ goodbye

Brenda Lee – The Crying Game

Further details of the proposed changes to the Championship, due to come into effect as early as next season, were outlined in last weekend’s edition of ‘The Rugby Paper’ in a revealing article by Neale Harvey.

They certainly don’t make easy reading for the likes of Coventry, Moseley and Plymouth, or any other clubs with genuine ambitions of playing Tier Two rugby.

The article is seen as important enough to be given front page billing, which in itself is indicative of the significance such changes could have the game both at local and national level.

To summarise, it appears the main proposals now include:

  • the ending of the ‘controversial’ tier two play-offs;
  • an annual £900,000 compensation package, funded by the Premiership, in order to sweeten, presumably, the loss of revenue from the play-off games;
  • £375,000 from the above sum will be shared amongst the sides finishing second to twelve in what ‘The Rugby Paper’ euphemistically describes as  ‘meritocracy payments’, although ‘blood money’ might seem a more appropriate name, given the impact it might well have on National 1 clubs;
  • although yet to be confirmed, it looks as if Championship sides will receive funding of £575,00 a year (up from £530,000), together with a further £60,000 for the club finishing second in the league, decreasing by £5,000 for each position below;

and here’s the killer:

  • the side finishing bottom of the Championship will automatically receive £20,000 but:

may not be automatically relegated as future proposals for a play-off with the champions of National One have been submitted to the RFU.

Surprise, surprise, this proposal comes with the backing of those clubs presently in the Championship and is supported by Premiership Rugby.

Cue hysterical laughter…

I can’t help but believe that to most supporters of clubs in National One (other than perhaps Hartpury College!)  this is simply ring-fencing by any other name,.

The Rugby Paper suggests this is a way of  Championship clubs protecting themselves from the differential in funding between Tiers Two and Three.

Fortunately, it appears that this proposal, not unsurprisingly, will meet with strong resistance from National One clubs, as well as the National Clubs Association which is the representative body of the 48 Clubs in National Leagues 1, 2, North and South.

In the same article, our own Phil Maynard is quoted as saying:

This is self-protectionism at its worst and competitively it stinks; you’re putting up artificial barriers in the way of big, traditional clubs such as ourselves, Plymouth and Moseley…

Well said, Phil…

He goes on to make the point that Cov are investing heavily in the club at the moment, adding that the Cov has just invested £1.2m in the purchase of the head lease in order to develop the ground further and create a ‘purpose-built’ stadium.

Interesting that, as I have a vague recollect of Jon Sharp declining to reveal the cost of the lease…?

Well now we know…

Anyway, Phil Maynard is quite clearly angry, and rightly so, that the Championship/Premiership is making up the rules as it goes along, putting hoops and hurdles in the way of any club in the future that has earned the right to play Championship rugby through securing the top spot in National One.

It does indeed stink.

Malodorous it is.

And maleficent, too.

PM is unhappy that the incline to that metaphorical playing field, whilst never level, is now becoming steeper and steeper…

…a two-legged play off, against a side with a higher wage bill and central funding from the RFU, would have a huge impact on us.

The article ends with a final word from PM…

Anyone can see that it’s plain wrong and that there’ll be huge opposition to this.

One can only hope that between them, the NCA and those clubs that are most likely to be affected by these plans carry enough weight to scupper the proposals before they come into effect. Given the plan is for everything to be in place by the beginning of next season, I rather fear that this might already be a ‘fait accompli’ and no matter how much of a reasoned argument is made against such moves, it is already a done deal.

The one chink of light for me might lie in the Premiership’s plans to buddy up with the Championship and loan out an unlimited number of players in return for a guarantee that those clubs agreeing won’t seek promotion into the Premiership. The news that the same offer could also be made to the more ambitious clubs in National 1 as well, including Coventry, suggests that there might be some negotiations still to be had, although there’s no way I imagine Cov would ever agree to signing away their right to promotion into the Premiership…at least there had better be…

…otherwise I’m off to watch ‘Street.

For more details about the buddying-up proposals presented to the Premiership by Nigel Melville, please click on the link below to a previous post

https://coventryrfc.me/2016/12/22/premierships-ambitious-proposals-for-the-championship-to-include-coventry-as-well/

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Also of interest to Cov supporters is an article, again by Neale Harvey, that warns of job losses in the Championship following  London Welsh’s removal from the Championship by the RFU.

According to James Buckland,  head coach of London Welsh, with no threat of relegation this season for the remaining 11 teams, there will be a likelihood that some other Championship clubs will use this as an opportunity to release what he describes as ‘fringe players’ and ‘streamline their operation’ – in essence, a cost cutting exercise.

Rumours abound about there being a number of other sides in the Championship that are in fairly serious financial difficulties, so this would be an ideal moment for them to make savings with no potential repercussions surrounding a club’s survival in the league.

Whilst one can discuss ad infinitum the morality of such a move by the remaining Championship sides, about loyalty to your players and so on, the harsh reality of the current economic climate is that clubs will be forced into making such decisions, however hard that might prove to be for the players, if it secures greater financial security…

I know what there are a lot of people who follow the blog outside of the Coventry area and as such probably don’t have access to the Coventry Telegraph, so I’ve included a link to a really interesting article written by Paul Smith in which he looks at, amongst other things, some of the inequalities between the Premiership and the two national tiers below.

 I was particularly taken by a comment PS attributes to Moseley’s Dave Warren, in which he suggests that:

over 600 professional players attached to the top 24 Premiership and Championship clubs did not take the field in the last round of league games.

which is a staggering statistic and partly explains why the Premiership are so keen to be involved in the proposals to buddy-up with Championship sides as mentioned above. I mention it really as evidence of the wisdom in James Buckland’s comments regarding the likelihood of some of the Championship clubs perhaps being ready to release some of the fringe players in their squads. If that figure of 600 is correct, small wonder then that this might be on the cards.

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Finally, with the imminent announcement of two players who will be joining Coventry this week and the suggestion that one or both might involve London Welsh players  who have  suddenly found themselves free agents following London Welsh’s recent problems, we now know that a least two of the LW squad have been ruled out of the equation, with Buckland confirming that Lovejoy Chawatama and Kristian Phillips will be joining Championship clubs – namely Ealing and London Irish respectively.

He does suggests, though, that:

…a lot of players have come of age this season so I hope people look at them and give them a chance.

I’m sure we’re looking…

…here’s hoping we can give one or two of them that opportunity!

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Brenda Lee- Crying  Game…

If only I was old enough to remember it… 😉

I know all there is to know about the crying game
I’ve had my share of the crying game

First there are kisses, then there are sighs
And then before you know where you are
You’re sayin’ goodbye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 reply »

  1. ” I rather fear that this might already be a ‘fait accompli’ ”

    To be fair, the clubs overruled the implementation of the blueprint for league rugby last year – though I suspect it may only be temporarily, but I tend to agree that it could be a done deal.

    Like

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